Linda Johnson Rice Is Leaving Billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla Board

Written by Dana Sanchez
Linda Johnson Rice, CEO of Ebony Media attends the Universal Music Group and Ebony celebration in honor of Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D) during 2017 CBCF ALC at Ajax Gallery on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Invision for Universal Music Group/AP Images)

Tesla board member Linda Johnson Rice has asked not to be re-elected when shareholders meet on June 11 for Tesla’s annual general meeting, the company said in a preliminary proxy statement.

Johnson Rice brought extensive media experience to the Tesla board when she joined in 2107. The board had been previously criticized for having directors with ties too close to CEO and founder Elon Musk.

Musk stepped down as chairman in 2018 as part of an agreement to settle a securities-fraud lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC charged Musk with lying when he tweeted that he had “funding secured” to take the electric car company private.

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Johnson Rice is the CEO of Johnson Publishing Company and former head of Ebony Media Operations, which her company previously owned. In 2016, Texas private-equity firm Clear View Group bought Ebony and Jet. Johnson Rice stayed on in management until October 2018. The Fashion Fair cosmetics line is the main business of Johnson Publishing.

Johnson Rice’s father, John Johnson, started Ebony in 1945. The monthly lifestyle magazine has documented the African-American experience since it first hit the newsstands.

Along with Johnson Rice, three others on the 11-member Tesla board are stepping down. All 11 are being sued, according to CCN.

Musk and all 11 board members were named in a shareholder lawsuit claiming the Tesla CEO’s “unchecked misstatements on Twitter” harmed the company. The suit was filed by Tesla shareholder, the Laborers’ District Council and Contractors’ Pension Fund of Ohio.

Tesla’s board is one of the best compensated of all publicly traded companies, New York Times reported. The 10 directors (Musk excluded) got stock options worth $60 million-plus in 2018, according to the proxy statement.